DNA — Then, and Now
|By: Jim Virkler; ©2008|
Now and then I check a biology textbook in order to find an answer to a question on some detail of life science. Many of my questions involve the majestic functions of the DNA molecule. When I was a student in high school biology in the early 1950s we were content to credit chromosomes and genes for transmission of traits of living things. That is true, but there were many more underlying secrets still waiting to be discovered. Among those secrets… the final word that DNA in those chromosomes and genes was really the fundamental genetic material. As late as the 1940s it was still not known whether to give that credit to DNA or to the many proteins in genes.
The question was answered in favor of DNA in 1952, followed by the discovery of its double helix molecular structure in 1953 by Francis Crick and James Watson. In 1953, my friends and I were more interested in basketball than biology, so I must confess this discovery, immensely significant in the annals of science, went right past me. Many more discoveries of the genetic code contained in that double helix molecule were made in the 1960s. The total genetic information contained in the DNA molecule of any living organism is called its genome. The textbook referenced above, Campbell, Reece, and Mitchell’s Biology, exults as follows about DNA: “If the entire library of genes stored within the microscopic nucleus of a single human cell were written in letters the size of those you are now reading, the information would fill more than a hundred books the size of this one.” That is more information than contained in an encyclopedia!
In a future post we will discuss the significance of DNA being a literal code capable of transmitting complex information through symbols, similar to letters of the alphabet, which have meaning other than the meaning of the symbols themselves.
Believers in supernatural creation who express amazement at the myriad discoveries made by professional scientists, such as unlocking the secrets of the DNA molecule, are often mocked by naturalist scientists as having no rationality. The naturalists claim we are merely discovering more about how natural processes work — nature being “all there is.” Supernaturalists, on the other hand, see more and more convincing evidence that a Designer is responsible for the design, and that a code such as that in DNA is the product of a supernatural mind. This conclusion is entirely rational.